Embracing 'nomadic' lifestyle, Seton-La Salle eyes big season
In a certain respect, the Seton-La Salle High School football team won't have a true home field advantage this season because, unlike most teams, they don't have a true home field.
But, as veteran head coach Greg Perry explained, in a way that is an advantage unto itself.
"We're nomads," said Perry, who is in his eighth year as the Rebels' field boss.
Seton-La Salle - which does not have a stadium on campus - will play two "home" games at Chartiers Valley, one at Baldwin and one at Peters Township.
Those games all will be on Friday nights, which, in Perry's view, is more important than the venue.
"We could get a regular home field if we wanted to play on Saturdays, but I don't like to play on Saturdays," he said. "I believe high school football in Western Pennsylvania should be played on Friday nights, and we do everything we can to get those games on Friday nights, wherever we have to go."
Alternating venues is not a distraction to his team, according to Perry. In fact, it gives his team an "anywhere, any time" mentality which can deflate the opposition's home-field advantage in true road games.
"We're used to it," Perry said. "It's not unique to us."
No matter if they're playing on the road or at "home," when the Rebels take the field fans can expect a Seton-La Salle team with its typical tough defense and potent offense.
The Rebels have six returning starters on both sides of the ball from a team that went 11-1 last season and made it to the WPIAL Class AA semifinal round.
This season, the Rebels' signature offense - known for racking up lots of yards and points - will have a new twist.
Instead of a wide receiver being the "go to" target, a tight end will take on that role, specifically University of Pittsburgh recruit Scott Orndoff.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Orndoff caught 20 passes as a wide receiver last season, and has all of the tools needed to be a big-time playmaker, Perry said.
"We have a big tight end, and that's something we have to utilize on offense," said the coach. "We have to get the ball into his hands."
With his rare combination of size and speed - and the versatility to line up next to the offensive linemen or split wide - Orndoff should create matchup problems for opposing defenses at his new position.
"He is capable of going out and getting a one-on-one matchup," Perry said. "He's capable of lining up in the tight end spot and keeping the safety away from our wide receivers. He's athletic enough to create matchup problems against a linebacker ... he can get in space and create problems."
Additionally, Orndoff's presence gives the team a safety valve when plays don't go as designed.
"Obviously, everybody knows the tight end can be the quarterback's best friend when he's in trouble," Perry said.
Senior Luke Brumbaugh returns at quarterback after throwing for 1,484 yards and 14 touchdowns last year.
Perry praised his experience and precision, meaning Brumbaugh should continue the long tradition of stellar Seton-La Salle quarterbacks.
In addition to Orndoff, Brumbaugh's primary targets will be senior wideouts Lou Rotunda and Tim Blair. Junior Tom Rizza will be the feature back, replacing All-WPIAL standout Kevin Hart.
"They will be the guys we will get the ball to," Perry said of his skill players.
Seniors J.T. Colosimo, Nick Agliori and Rob Beck return on the offensive line. Senior captain Nick Sywyj will play fullback, but his biggest impact will be on defense, where he is a force at middle linebacker.
Sywyj, a three-year starter on defense, will be joined by Beck at linebacker, while Agliori and Colosimo will be the key players on the defensive line.
Rizza and Blair return as starters at cornerback.
"We have some spots that we have to fill, but that's what training camp is for," Perry said.
Perry believes a Class AA Century Conference title is possible for the Rebels, though rivals Steel Valley and South Fayette appear to be the teams to beat.
"Our first goal is to try to make the playoffs," Perry said. "We'll take care of our own business and see what happens after that."